Mega melon: Cantaloupe takes on oblong shape at 40 pounds

Duke Fugate, of Fruitland, holds up a 40-pound cantaloupe that he harvested from his garden on Monday morning.

FRUITLAND — Duke Fugate, of Fruitland, hauled in his biggest-ever cantaloupe this year. He harvested the football-shaped 40-pound melon on Monday morning, calling it his “biggest so far,” and said the second-biggest cantaloupe he’s ever grown was a hefty 37 pounds.

Fugate says there are no tricks up his sleeve when it comes to growing the melon, adding that it’s 100-percent organic and that he uses no fertilizer. He said the 40-pounder was the biggest cantaloupe on that vine, which also grew several smaller ones weighing about 10 or 15 pounds.

Fugate started this particular vine from seed indoors in early June, transplanting it outside by June 15.

Each year, Fugate saves seeds from the biggest melon, then plants them the following spring.

Fugate credits a late friend for the fruit’s good genetics, saying his friend started growing them about 65 to 70 years ago and that getting this variety of cantaloupe to get so large “has been about a seventy year process.”

Fugate, who’s been growing the melons for about 10 years, says he hasn’t entered any fairs or anything contests with the fruit. Instead, he just enjoys them for himself.

His favorite way to eat the orange-fleshed fruit is “by itself, with absolutely nothing else.”

Are cantaloupes still as sweet once they reach a gigantic size such as this?

“Every bit as good as the small ones on the same vine,” Fugate says.

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